The Rwanda National Soccer team have arrived in Zambia ahead of their friendly game this weekend.
Rwanda play Zambia at Heroes National Stadium (Lusaka, Zambia) in an international friendly this Sunday, March 29 2015 (KO 15:00 local; 13:00 GMT; 14:00 BST)
Coach McKinstry, who only took up his post as National Coach at the beginning of the week, is looking forward to the fixture:
"This game could not come at a better time, at the very beginning of my role with Rwanda, as it will allow me to get to know both the current group of players and the existing technical staff immediately."
After speaking with the press at his formal introduction at FERWAFA HQ on Monday, Coach McKinstry immediately joined the team on the training field as they began preparations for the Zambia game.
His first impressions of the players and their potential has been very positive - "They are a young team, still relatively inexperienced for the most part - but I do see a lot of potential among the group and something that I feel I can shape moving forward"
Asked about preparations, he noted the hard work and dedication of the players and coaching staff:
"The players have been very good to work with in training - very enthusiastic and hard working, as well as being open to new ideas. They are already beginning to take on board new approaches."
"The existing staff have also been a great help since I arrived, helping me to get to know the players quickly."
As Coach McKinstry was only appointed at the beginning of the week, team selection will largely remain with the existing coaching staff for this initial game.
"The existing staff will play a large part in selection decisions this coming weekend as their experience over recent years of many of the players at both international and club level is currently much more extensive than my own after only a few days."
Zambia are reported to be working hard in preparations for the game, following their early exit from the group stages of the 2015 CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournament. After failing to win a game in the group stages, Zambia will be looking to revive their pride as they face Rwanda.
Asked about his views on the opponents, Coach McKinstry said:
"Zambia have largely overhauled their squad since AFCON in favour of many young players, and those players will be out to put in a positive performance at the weekend to try and catch the eye of their coach. As such it could well prove to be an exciting and open encounter"
Away games are always difficult in Africa, and Rwanda will be keen to improve on their away record which over the last 10 games has been Win:1, Draw:4, Loss:5.
McKinstry however knows these are very early days in his tenure as Head Coach of Rwanda, and he will be looking on the game as an opportunity to assess strengths and weaknesses to shape his work over the coming weeks and months.
"Having been appointed as Head Coach at the beginning of the week, the short timeframe ahead of the game with Zambia means that it will mainly allow me to observe players and staff, and their preparations and approaches to date.
Following our return to Kigali I can use this assessment to immediately begin my work to build and strengthen the Amavubi ahead of the upcoming qualification games."
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About Coach McKinstry
Johnny McKinstry is a UEFA Pro Licensed Football Coach. He was International Manager and Head Coach of the Rwanda National Football Team from March 2015 - August 2016. Within just 17 months he led Rwanda to a number of highs - including their first ever appearance in the knockout stages of a major international tournament (Quarter-finals of CHAN, Jan 2016) and finished runner-up in CECAFA (Dec 2105), being named 'Coach of the Tournament' for his efforts.
He was Head Coach of the Sierra Leone National Men's Football team from April 2013 - September 2014. Within just over a year, he had led Sierra Leone to their highest ever FIFA World and African rankings - 7th in Africa and 50th in the World (August 2014). From Jan 2010 - Dec 2014 he set up and developed the Craig Bellamy Elite Soccer Academy in Sierra Leone - placing elite young players in Europe, Asia and North America. He is a European (UEFA), American (NSCAA) and university qualified football coach.
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